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Processing Grief

by | Mar 21, 2023

Ezekiel 24:15-18 – Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.

Why did God command Ezekiel not to mourn the death of his wife?  God was using Ezekiel to convey a message to the rebellious Israelites.  But thankfully, God does not give us any such command.

When Jacob thought that his beloved son Joseph was killed, he did not take it very well:

Genesis 37:34-35 – Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

One more biblical example: King David losing his son Absalom.  In this case, unlike the others, King David’s loss was a direct consequence of his great sin.

2 Samuel 18:33 – Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

One thing is common in all these examples: emotional pain.  Losing someone you love hurts.  But just like physical pain, we can take steps to heal from that hurt.

Knowing the Lord gives believers a tremendous advantage over unbelievers.  If our loved one knew the Lord, then we have the comforting knowledge of knowing that we will see our loved one again- he or she is not “gone forever.”  But it’s more than that.  I’ve been able to have conversations with God where I can express all my deepest thoughts and feelings, and I can repeat myself over and over without God getting tired of hearing it!  This has been especially helpful with feelings of guilt and regret, for me the hardest part of the grieving process.  It’s almost like I have “therapy sessions” with God, and they work!

Conversely, there are some things that make the grieving process easier.  For me, having been my friend’s caregiver for five years has been a great comfort.  I watched my friend take care of both her parents for years, and said in my heart, “I hope I never have to do that!”  But God did call me to that, and to my great surprise, that experience has been a tremendous blessing.  I can honestly say, “Thank you God for giving me the privilege of being her caregiver!”

Every person’s grieving process will be different depending on the type of relationship you had, the way the death happened, and many other factors.  But we need to use this painful experience to let God cause good to come out of it.  One obvious benefit is that we will be able to comfort others who go through this as well as other types of difficulties.  Pain in our lives can stir up compassion for others.  It can also serve to connect with others who are hurting.  And not only that, but the blessing we give to others will “boomerang” back to us!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

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